Saturday, May 31, 2008

Morgana Run 5K Race & the kettlebell

What does winning a 5K race and a kettlebell workout have in common? They are both hard yet rewarding experiences to be had. I'll start with the kettlebell. I've heard of these "iron balls" in the past but thought they were too dangerous to mess with. But I recently listened to a certified trainer give a talk on the kettlebell and how the benefits through proper use can give great results from a strength and conditioning aspect. I did some youtude perusing and was impressed so I went to Dicks Sporting Goods and bought a 20lb kettlebell. I got home from the store and watched the video that came with the KB and did about 7 sets of the various exercises. I tried to take it slow and make sure I had proper form yet I still managed to put up a sweat and get my heart rate pumping. Two days later DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) set in on my shoulders and ham string muscles. Just what I needed in time for my local 5K race. Not.

The video displays a kettlebell swing. Watch Annie as she swings her way up from 16kg to 32kg. Very impressive.

I will use the DVD's that came with the kettlebell for a 3 month, 2 to 3 workouts per week, to see what kind of results I get.

Back to the race. I chose this local race because it's a few miles down the street from my home. I think it's encouraging to see what the Slavic Village Development is doing to improve the community. The race was the 2nd annual event and I thought it was well organized including a hip band at the finish and pierogies, sausages and bananas for us to enjoy. I checked out last years results to find that the overall winner was in 18:32. I was pumped and knew I could smash that time.

My race prep included a bowl of oatmeal with a squirt of Hammer gel and sips of HEED leading up to the race. I ran an easy 2 mile warm up, did some stretching, and 4 x 100 yard stride outs. I was ready to run.

The bell went off and I immediately took lead and heard someones feet behind me for the first mile. The first mile was in 5:05. That was fast. I was then working hard to maintain an even pace for the rest of the race. No one ever came up behind me to push me even more into oxygen debt. Good thing, because I was spent, winning the overall race.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Backpacking Racoon Creek State Park, PA

Oh, the joys of backpacking! But before I get into explaining how enjoyable backpacking was this past weekend for my family and I at Raccoon Creek State, PA, I have to speak of some of the preparations involved in getting ready for the trip.

Planning begins with laying out a route that 10 year old boys can hike without feeling like a death march. There should be enough miles to hike in 2 days and still have plenty of time to stop, jump in the creeks, or swing on the vines. What "kid food" to buy and to bring that will feed their appetite. Make sure all hiking and camping equipment is in good shape. The kids have boots and a backpack. Make reservations for the camp site in early May. Pack clothes and equipment the night before and the food in the morning. The list goes on but after you survive the 2 hour drive in the car with silly boys punching each other and you set foot on the trail and soak in all the sights and sounds of nature you remember why we came out into the woods.

Before we start to hike the boys find a stream and begin "fishing around" and get their shoes and pants wet. If that's what they want to do to have fun then they are free to be boys and explorer the great outdoors.

We hiked 3 miles in about 2 hours the first day and 5.5 miles in 5 hours the second day. Backpackers typically hike 2 miles per hour which includes a 10 minute rest every 50 minutes but with little hikers there is no set pace. It's not about the hike but the experiences along the way that the boys love to enjoy.

Our campsite had Adirondack Shelters for us to sleep in, rest rooms near by, a well water pump and a bear bag pole. By the pole was a sign explaining how important it is in not "entertaining" the bears with food left in the campsite but to use the pole to string up your food and to get it out of reach from the critters. I had them read the sign so that they can learn some "best camp practices". I think it may have put some scary thoughts in their heads as the sun went down and it was time to go to sleep. We had to speak reassuring words that bears are shy and are not looking to bother us. Besides we cleaned up camp and left no trace of food for bears or critters to find.

We all slept fine.

Yes, there is a lot to get ready for a backpacking trip but where else can boys throw knives, wade in a creek digging up cray fish, swing on vines, and build fires? And that's why we'll be out in the woods again.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tandem Practice Ride

GOBA is a week long camping and biking adventure in the Ohio area. And my family and I signed up to ride it this year on June 14th, with a group of 11 other riders. I rode GOBA back in 2004 with about 12 other friends and I had a great time. I had hoped to one day do GOBA again and to ride it with my wife and son. But, in order to do the average 50 mile daily ride I had to find a way for them to survive without too much discomfort. First, we had to do something about getting a decent bike for my wife. She would not be able to ride her mountain bike for the trip so we began to shop around for a road bike. We found one at our local bike shop where she was fitted nicely onto a women's specific Cannondale bike. She has taken the bike out for a couple spins around the neighborhood and park and appreciates the comfort factor being so much better compared to the men's mountain bike that she rode with.

The next challenge for me was to borrow a tandem bike from a friend and begin practice riding it with my 10 year son. I had to buy extender cranks for him to reach the pedals. I adjusted the seat all the way down and positioned the handle bars so that he felt comfortable on the bike.

We have been riding the tandem for about 2 weeks now and we are loving it every time we go out. Our longest ride was 2 hours this past Saturday (before Sunday's Cleveland 10K race). We are working on building up to 4 hours of riding up and down hills. We hope to accomplish that by the first weekend in June. This should give us all the confidence we need in order to survive a week long of biking.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Cleveland 10K

This year we had no wrong turns on the 10K course. All went well for my long awaited 10K race. I could complain about pulling a muscle in my chest yesterday when I twisted and turned my body while lifting my tandem bike out of the trunk. But then, if it's not one thing it's another on race day. We still did our family long bike ride of 21 miles. The pain was noticeable every time I would turn my head and torso to look behind. And if I took deep breaths I could feel the pain. I was hoping a good soak in Epsom salt bath and good nights sleep would help ease some pain, which it did.

Race morning was a cool 55 degrees and some light rain at the start. The first mile went by fast and easy with a time of 5:40. I was happy with that time. I then focused on maintaining a steady strong pace while getting hit from winds in all directions. The last mile I ran with Scott S. which helped me to finish strong otherwise, I may have fallen apart with no one to push me.

One of the best things about running this big race is the crowd support along the course. And I would have to give the best cheering award to E and Solar Squirrel from our Running Club. They really put on a great cheering performance. They spotted me way before I even could see them. I could hear them but didn't see where they were until I came closer to them. Thanks gals, your cheering took me through to the next mile.

After the race I ate a banana, Stony Farm yogurt and then put on some warm dry clothes. I made my way to the marathon course and met Brian. We had agreed that I would help bring him in the last 4 miles of his marathon race. I did my best to speak words of encouragement along the way. We had a good time.

Link to 10K Results for a 22nd overall finish.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Sunny Side of Training.

My training for the May 18, Cleveland 10K is going well. Last week we visited our daughter in sunny Florida. She recently had a baby girl and we got to spend time with her and her family. During our visit we spent a day at Epcot, went to the beach a couple of times, and hugged and kissed the baby the rest of the time.

I did my runs in the mornings when the temps were in the mid 80's and humidty at 80 percent. A 6 mile mid tempo run in 38:26 (6:24 pace) was bearable but the 8 mile long tempo in 53:19 (6:40 pace) was a cooker. I needed to drink some water after 40 minutes sooo bad. I was tempted to plop myself into one of the many ponds I ran by but after seeing 2 alligators already that morning I realized you don't go swimming in just any pond you see in Florida.

Today's track workout was a good indicator for me to prove the kind of shape I am in for a good 10K race. The main set was 3 X 1 mile (at 5:38 pace) with only 1 minute rest between. And if we have 80+ temps with high humidity on race morning I hope my mind and body remembers the tough run I did in Florida.